As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, virtual learning platforms and methods have been especially important in universities and colleges as the primary means of delivering information to students. In many cases, virtual education is the only way students can continue pursuing their goals and degrees. As we move forward, many current and prospective students wonder how this new shift to online learning will shape the future of college education.
Universities Will Add More Online Programs
One thing is certain; digital learning is here to stay. Until now, however, the options for online learning at the university level were limited. In 2021, universities and professors are more skilled in the various media of online delivery and accustomed to delivering information through a variety of virtual platforms. We anticipate that more universities will start adding more fully online courses and degree programs. The move will allow universities to cater to remote students as well as students who work full-time or have families, thus boosting enrollment possibilities.
Greater Focus on Equalized Access to Technology
Unfortunately, the shift to online education and work in 2020 also highlighted the digital divide in America and illuminated long-standing racial disparities in tech access. This “tech gap” largely impacts communities of color, placing the technological resources in many black and Hispanic communities ten years behind that of most white communities. The result is a drastic limitation of many Americans’ access to virtual learning and employment opportunities.
As a result, universities, educational institutions, and advocacy organizations have come together to supply better access for underserved communities. In many cases, these efforts have provided additional tools to individuals as well as community resources accessible to members of needy populations. Hopefully, groups will continue to prioritize fair access to virtual learning opportunities as 2021 progresses.
More Demand for Non-Degree Credentials
Another trend we are likely to see is a greater demand for non-degree credentials. For many years, employers would not even consider hiring an applicant who did not hold a university degree. In recent times, more companies and hiring agents are focusing on skills and applicable abilities instead. Some employers are even viewing qualifications as existing on a spectrum rather than as a binary consideration, further increasing the impact of experience in addition to a degree.
With this in mind, universities are likely to continue expanding their various certificate and non-degree programs. Vocational training, labor certificates, and other credentials will be gaining popularity among hiring managers and universities, as well as the students who are eager to hit the job market with more skills and less debt.
Online Learning Trends Will Lead to Increased Cooperation
With so many employers frustrated by the lack of recent graduates qualified to meet ever-changing workforce demands, universities will partner with more businesses to help better prepare students for entering the workforce. These partnerships will create strategic plans for turning out graduates with the skills, knowledge, and ability to meet industry needs. They may even provide ready access to jobs for young talent. Overall, as online learning continues to impact students around the world, we expect the business community to adapt to help increase the employability of the students who are learning online in 2021 and beyond.